Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Workflow SNAFU - Adobe Elements

Braintrust Digital has an article at Bit of Tech on the new features in Adobe's Elements 8 series (Photoshop Elements for Windows and Macintosh, Premiere Elements for Windows) that were demonstrated during a pre-release conference call on the 21st.

While much has been written today, the Elements 8 launch day, about the features, little has been written about a perplexing workflow snafu: Adobe's decision to forgo Premiere Elements 8 on the Mac platform. So we'll cover it here.

let’s address the missing Element on the Macintosh platform. While Photoshop Elements 8 is a welcome return to the Mac (Elements 7 was a Windows-only program), the fact that Adobe is staking its Elements re-introduction on Photoshop is a bit perplexing for three reasons.

First, Adobe is taking on iPhoto with Photoshop Elements, but ignoring iMovie (the closest equivalent on the Mac to Premiere Elements). This is odd, given the fact that few Mac users complain about the lack of features in iPhoto, and Photoshop Elements only adds a few differentiators, but there have been numerous complaints over the past two years regarding iMovie’s transmogrificaiton to an almost unusable program.  In other words, the low-hanging fruit's in a decent low-end video application.

Second, to properly use Elements, Adobe stores content in the Elements Organizer. The company went out of its way to demonstrate how Organizer is equally at home with still images and video clips, even demonstrating the use of video tags on a scene-by-scene basis. The justification for a more robust Organizer was that customer feedback showed that users were shooting both still images and video on their capture devices (eg, disk- or chip-based camcorders, point-and-shoot or even newer D-SLR cameras).

Third, while iPhoto and iMovie have access to the system-wide media library (derived from iTunes, iPhoto and iMovie working together), Organizer is a walled-garden approach to content. This means that any content put into Organizer is available to the Elements programs, but not necessarily available to other programs, such as iPhoto or iMovie.

Adobe’s Photoshop Elements-only approach on the Mac means that Mac users must put their still image content in Organizer while putting their video content into iMovie / iTunes. This intentional splitting of content types across different media libraries means that Mac users of Photoshop Elements must work extra hard to use Organizer to segment content from the combination capture devices mentioned above, and the end result will be an inability to use both types of content between Adobe and non-Adobe programs. In other words, more work for less overall benefit. That’s a value proposition!

Adobe touts Elements as a “complete end-to-end solutions: organize, edit, create, share.”  Following the logic, though, not shipping Premiere Elements 8 for the Mac must mean Adobe must feel that don't want a decent video program, that Mac users still segment their still and video capture devices and that Mac users are willing to do more work for less benefit.

It’s almost as if someone forgot to mention to Adobe that the iPhone 3GS has been out for months and has been hugely popular because it shoots both still images and video!

Sadly, a lack of uptake in Photoshop Elements 8 for the Mac, based on Mac users questioning the validity of the walled-garden approach for one type of media, may lead Adobe to the conclusion that the Mac platform is hostile to non-Apple photo or video applications. The conclusion would be wrong, if only because Adobe's current approach is providing less than half a solution to the underlying problem.

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